The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke
320 Pages (Paperback)
October 2, 2012
Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.
And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.
The mysteriously magical and dangerous world that surrounds the characters in The Assassin's Curse is intriguing, and the journey that the characters get dragged on is equally enjoyable. However, there is a strong type of language barrier that kept me enjoying the story as much as I would have liked.
Ananna was born and raised on a pirate ship. Her parents have arranged a marriage for her that would strengthen their standings among the Confederacy. When she comes face to face with her planned future, she decides that the path that has been chosen for her is not the that one she wants. Because of her abandonment, the family of her ex-groom wants her dead, and they send one of the infamous assassins after her to do the job - the only true kind of death. After a strange turn of events, the assassin sent to kill her is cursed to protect her. The journey that ensues is full of adventure, near-death experiences and an unlikely friendship.
The biggest strength of this novel is the lack of a concrete notion of time. The setting makes the reader think that it takes place in 1600's, however the inclusion of magic makes the reader think that the novel takes place in an alternate world, which would then make time irrelevant to placing the novel. In addition, while the two are off on their adventures, even though there are hints like "we continued on for three days" (not direct quote), it is not exactly told how long this journey has taken. By not being constrained by time, the novel is really able to create a fantastical world ungoverned by the laws of nature.
Unfortunately, not everything was so wonderful. The narrator, Ananna, is uneducated, and her story telling reflects that. I understand that lack of grammatically correct sentences portrays the character more truly, but it made the reading experience quite choppy for me. I think a simple vocabulary with some double negatives would have sufficed. On the same note, the names made me stumble quite a few times. Ananna, as silly as this sounds, I often read "banana" and had to backtrack. The names of people and places contain a lot of "j"'s sometimes a double "jj" and I was not sure how to pronounce these. Like a "ja" or like an "ee" or a "gee". I wish there was some sort of pronunciation guide to make this easier.
As you can see, the elements of the novel that did not sit well with me were structural things, and not necessarily part of the story itself. It is quite possible that you could love the story and not be bothered by the structure like I was.